From Charles Babbage to Atari: A visit to the Computer History Museum

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

San Francisco (CA) - TG Daily was recently invited to attend Intel Research Day at the venerable Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Although the company showcased a number of innovative products, I was inexplicably drawn to the museum's inner sanctum where once-precious artifacts from an ancient era were carefully preserved.

Computer Museum Artifacts

I entered the digital cathedral, armed with little more than a camera and nostalgic memories of bygone years. Yet, I was not alone in my quest. As my eyes adjusted, I was able to discern the figures of exhausted pilgrims paying homage to Charles Babbage and his fabled Difference Engine.

Babbage Difference Engine

Far off in the distance, dedicated acolytes clustered around a shrine housing the impressive Commodore 2001 (PET). Others wept at an altar dedicated to the original Apple computer and spoke in hushed tones about Saint Stephen Jobs.

Apple Computer

Overwhelmed, I waded aimlessly through a sea of glass cases containing many potent relics. After a short respite, I resumed my journey and observed mechanical marvels too numerous to count. But there was little that could compare to what I found in the Holy of Holies. Indeed, I was absolutely captivated by "gaming devices" of varying shapes and sizes. According to the learned Elders, these magical devices once provided entire cities with hours of "entertainment."

Video Game

I stared speechless, utterly spellbound. Quivering with excitement, I located my ink bottle and quill and began to sketch the most memorable of artifacts. Many long hours passed, but I ignored hunger and exhaustion until the quill scraped noisily against an empty bottle. I quickly succumbed to the eddying darkness and awoke hours later outside the hallowed chambers of the grand cathedral.

Commodore 2001 PET

Dear reader, you may find elements of this tale beyond the realm of reason and possibility. Nevertheless, I beg you to reserve judgement until casting your eyes over the painstakingly reproduced portraits below. Sadly, the golden era of technology may have departed this world long ago, but it will live forever in our hearts.

Ancient Japanese Mainframe
Ancient Japanese Mainframe

Sony Hit Bit MSX
Sony Hit Bit MSX

Master personal computer, USSR, 1993
Master personal computer, USSR, 1993

Honeywell Kitchen Computer
Honeywell Kitchen Computer

US Military Interface
US Military Interface

US Military Interface
US Military Interface